It was great. It’s the kind of movie that invokes that latent reason why you got infected by horse racing. I get chills every time I hear Secretariat called a “tremendous machine.” It’s movies like this that the racing fan needs to recharge his or her battery after the constant beatings of stories like this.
ESPN’s Bill Finley notes, “They did it again. At the very instant the field for Saturday's Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park was crossing the finish line in Chicago the horses for the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga were leaving the gate. These were two huge racing events and they happened virtually at the same time, forcing the horseplayer to concentrate on and, likely, bet on one but not both.”
How hard can this be? Apparently, very hard. As Finley goes on to say, it’s a matter of delaying the post time of the most malleable race, in this case, Arlington over Saratoga.
But, alas, when you’re undoubtedly exhausted by this sort of subject, you need look no further than the great cameos by the great Bill Nack, seated next to the actor playing the young Bill Nack, in the movie “Secretariat” and Penny Chenery. That must have been a mind-bend for Nack. The press conference scenes are some of the most colorful and show how Frank “Pancho” Martin was portrayed as a most antagonizing figure. I doubt he was really like this. Trainers don’t call out other horses and connections like that, do they?
And then there are the tales of suicide brought to you by ESPN’s Paul Moran, “Beyond the Hudson, dark clouds line the sport's horizon. Racing's current cocktail of choice, equal parts arrogance and myopia, has taken hold, an intoxicant with potentially frightening consequence. Arrogance is provided in steaming heaps by the Breeders' Cup, its leaders having abdicated every virtue and purpose inspired by the event's founding fathers. Myopia is delivered by those -- including those who guide the Breeders' Cup, happily in double jeopardy of bringing the game to its knees -- who have taken up the cause of eliminating the use of Lasix for racing.
Sit back and watch a sport, an industry and a way of life die in its own noose.”
Moran’s image is raw. After playing up New York’s promise at the prospect of slot money ready to flood the barren and fallow fields, he paints a cryptic picture of the dim-lighted tomorrow. Moran also has a fluidity with words that goes, in my opinion, unrivaled.
“Since 2005, the last year in which a Breeders' Cup has been staged in the greatest city in the world, three will have been awarded to Santa Anita and three more to Churchill Downs, worthy venues but certainly cities that do not merit the award to the exclusion of New York City.”
Poor New York ... and poor Sham. There’s undoubtedly been thousands of words written about this horse and how, if it weren’t for Secretariat, may be revered as the greatest horse who ever ran. And he is certainly one of them.
That’s the problem with not having control of your birth date. Andy Roddick may have had himself a fine, fine career, but Mr. and Mrs. Roddick successfully conceived their son around the same time Mr. and Mrs. Federer. One has won 16 majors. The other? One. Secretariat and Sham, indeed. Wait, that’s an insult to Sham. Withdrawn, your Honor.
I’m no horseman, but watching the actor who played Secretariat run was like watching Tim Robbins pitch convincingly in “Bull Durham.” You mean we’re supposed to believe that “God came down and gave him a thunder bolt for an arm” when he looked like a nine-inning dry heave? This would be like having Webster play Usain Bolt.
As Moran continued to pull no punches, he eloquently riffed how New York could, if had the “chutzpah”, threaten the Breeders’ Cup by realigning its cosmic fall races onto the same card.
“If not, disaster (the endgame) awaits. The alignment of these stars is indeed perilous and when an accident is waiting to happen, it generally does.”
Brendan O'Meara is the author of "Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year." "Like" it on Facebook or buy a copy here.